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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  March 22, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, president trump turns up the heat on members of his own party as the health care make-over he wants faces the possibility of rejection. then, in her first interview since leaving office, former obama national security advisor susan rice talks the dangers of losing credibility in trump's white house. also ahead, supreme court nominee neil gorsuch faces more questions about his view of the constitution and the law. and, as colors drain from coral in australia's great barrier reef, we examine how warming waters are killing the world's largest living structure.
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>> corals reefs as we know them will not exist in the next 10, 20, 30 years. we could single-handedly be responsible for the extinction of an entire ecosystem. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> our tradition has been to take care of mother earth, because it's that that gives us water, gives us life. the land is here for everyone. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention. in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for
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public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president trump is turning up the heat on members of his own party as the health care make-over he wants faces the possibility of rejection. at this hour it is not clear he has the votes. the house is scheduled to vote on the bill on thursday. for millions, it would change the amount of money they receive to for millions, it would change the amount of money they receive to buy insurance, and eventually end an expansion of medicaid. last week, the congressional budget office estimated 24 million more people would be uninsured over a decade. lisa desjardins reports on the battle from capitol hill. >> desjardins: in the basement of the capitol, house members heading to more predictable votes today, conveyed the republican divide over the big health care vote set for tomorrow. new york's tom reed became a yes
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in the last day, thanks to help for his district counties. >> i think a continuation of the information, the improvements, i think more and more members are becoming comfortable with it. >> desjardins: but not new jersey's leonard lance, who met with the president yesterday. he didn't change your mind? >> i think he wanted to listen to members and i was pleased he invited me and other members to meet with him. >> desjardins: that sounds like a polite "he didn't change my mind" >> i was honored to be in the white house and meet with the president. >> desjardins: the semantic dance comes because g.o.p. leaders may not have the votes they need. this as their bill hit its last stop before a final vote-- the house rules committee. it's stacked with bill supporters, but where republican rob woodall worried about noted the bumpy ride... >> it seems like we're going out of our way to make this more divisive than it has to be. >> desjardins: but budget chairman diane black aimed for pragmatic unity.
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>> before, we know that analogy- its like sausage, not pretty getting made but tastes pretty good at end if you get it right. so i think that's something we have to encourage all members to continue to bring their suggestions forward. >> desjardins: meantime president trump tried to wrangle votes, meeting with unhappy, and much needed, conservatives privately. publicly, at least, he was confident. >> we're going to get this done and we're going to get it figured out. it's a tough situation our country has been put in. it's not easy. >> desjardins: but the white house effort has still not won over the pivotal, conservative freedom caucus, chairman mark meadows. >> we had a great meeting with the vice president. you know they are fully engaged but i can say this at this particular point-- we need changes to the underlying bill before we vote on it in the house. >> desjardins: this as pressure keeps mounting from outside the capitol. among those whipping for no votes, and dinging those who vote yes, are prominent conservative groups the heritage
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foundation and club for growth. pushing in the opposite direction is the national taxpayer's union, which came out for the bill today. as republicans worked behind the scenes, democrats were happy to provide public optics, with a flag-waving news conference celebrating the seventh anniversary of the affordable care act. house minority leader nancy pelosi. >> today we are gathered to say how proud we are of what was accomplished and contrast it with what is being proposed-- will be less care for more money. >> desjardins: the democrats called up doctors, rural hospital workers, business owners and patients-- all stressing opposition to medicaid cuts in the g.o.p. bill. as did one of the faces of oamacare, former vice president biden, to rail against the >> are talking about cutting one trillion in benefits that go to people who believe health care is a right and transferring all that to the wealthy.
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>> desjardins: but it is the current white house now in the spotlight. >> there is no plan b. there's plan a, plan a and we are getting it done. >> desjardins: and an emphatic message, to his own republicans, from the white house press secretary. >> this is it if you want to see obamacare repealed and replaced, this is it. this is the vote. >> desjardins: and if they say "no?" to that, president trump said today: "we'll see what happens." >> and just in the past few minutes we have some news out of the freedom caucus. reporters say that the chairman of that caucus, mark meadows, who we featured now says he's encouraged by negotiations, and he sees some headway. that's different than a yes, but indicates perhaps some movement late tonight. also, the house rules committee right above me is still meeting. they've been at it since 10:00 this morning. so far no changes to the bill, but they're expected to go late tonight, judy. >> woodruff: lisa, as you show, there have been a through members mbz throughout the day who are now saying they're shifting in the direction of
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yes, that they've been persuaded by specific promises, so what do you know about that? >> they're absolutely is horse trading going on today. two dhaiss we know about for sure, pennsylvania's lou barletta, he tweeted out that he is now a yes after getting a guarantee from house leadership for a vote on a bill that he wants that would ban tax credits for undocument immigrants. also steve king of iowa, he is now a yes, source tell me, because he has gotten an assurance that the president will push for some insurance regulation changes in the senate. now, those are two new yes votes, judy, but there's also at least two, probably more, new no votes, some on the record, some off the record. so it's very fluid. i think it's hard to draw conclusion right now about where this bill is. >> woodruff: so, lisa, what about those who are truly still on the fence? what is known about what they want or what they need? >> here's what conservatives want. conservatives say they want this bill to include a full repeal of the individual mandate and also of the essential benefits that says what must be in insurance
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packages. the leadership in the house and senate say they can't do that because of the rules of the reconciliation process, because of the way the senate works. the house freedom caucus says they're not so sure that's true. so they're having a procedural argument, but it also is about substance. it's about trying to end the mandate, which they don't think this bill does. that's a lot of the discussion right now. >> woodruff: and, finally, lisa, will the republican leadership go ahead and hold a vote tomorrow if they're not sure they have the votes? >> you know, i spoke to one member who told me that he has heard that speaker ryan will hold the vote regardless, but that's just one member, and history tailsz, judy, usually, if they don't have the votes, the speerkz will pull the bill but we're in unusual times as we all know. >> woodruff: we are in unusual times. lisa desjardins, thank you. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, chaos erupted outside britain's parliament building, and when it was over, at least four people were dead. they included an attacker who drove into a crowd, a policeman he stabbed before being shot dead, and two civilians hit by
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the car. paul davies of independent television news reports from london. >> reporter: parliament in lock down. emergency vehicles block all roads. an air ambulance arrives to collect the casualties. the security services have warned there'd been many close calls before but this was the day the terror threat arrived at westminster. and even entered the grounds of the mother of parliaments. here a police officer throws a bag of emergency supplies over the fence. inside the grounds medics are desperately trying to help a colleague that had been stabbed. a second person seen here being treated on the left of this picture is believed to be the attacker who's been shot by police. as news spreads so does panic. tourists run away and then we hear the sound of gunshots.
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while armed officers enter parliament m.p.'s are briefed on what's happening outside. >> what i am able to say to the house is that there has been a serious incident within the estate. >> reporter: but there was more to this horrifying event. much more. on westminster bridge a trail of carnage. a car had mounted the pavement deliberately mowing down pedestrians as it headed for the houses of parliament. the injured are scattered where they were knocked down. there are multiple casualties. the car reached the perimeter of parliament before crashing into railings. in this image there's still smoke coming from its engine. tourists mill around it. police say the man on this stretcher who was shot by their officers.
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>> what we currently believe there was only one attacker, i'm sure the public will understand taking every precaution in lock down and searching the area as thoroughly and exhaustively as possible. >> at this stage, police are not speculatin >> reporter: at this stage police are not speculating what the motive of the attacker. the man they are calling a terrorist. >> woodruff: the incident came one year after islamist militants killed 32 people in brussels, belgium. turkey's president issued a stark warning to european states today. recep tayip erdogan demanded they stop barring turkish government officials from rallies of turkish emigres. they're meant to drum up support for expanding erdogan's powers. in ankara today, the turkish leader said europe has to change its ways, or face the consequences. >> ( translated ): these incidents are closely followed. if you continue this way, no european in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. if you stay on this dangerous path, you will sustain the biggest damage. >> woodruff: turkey holds a referendum on expanding erdogan's powers next month.
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there's word tonight that u.s. agencies may have intercepted communications by trump transition officials. the chair of the house intelligence committee, devin nunes, says it happened during legal surveillance of foreign nationals. nunes briefed the president at the white house today, and said the information is not related to any contacts with the russians. >> what i saw has nothing to do with russia and nothing to do with the russian investigation. it has everything to do with possible surveillance activities and the president needs to know these intelligence reports are out there and i have a duty to tell him that. >> woodruff: nunes says he believes the intercepts may have been improperly included in intelligence reports. the chairman did not speak to the ranking democrat on the intelligence panel before going public. that is representative-- rather, he did not share it with him, and that is representative adam schiff of california.
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>> the chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the trump campaign and the russians or he's going to act as a surrogate of the white house, because he cannot do both. >> woodruff: nunes did say today there's still no evidence for the president's claim that he was wiretapped. but mr. trump said he feels "somewhat" vindicated by the disclosure. this was day three of the senate confirmation hearings for supreme court nominee neil gorsuch, and he again declined to divulge his views on a host of legal issues. republicans gave him glowing reviews, but democrats complained he's concealing his views to win confirmation. we'll have excerpts of today's testimony, and analysis, later in the program. representatives of 68 nations gathered in washington today to assess the fight against the islamic state group. john yang has our report. >> yang: the full 68-nation anti-isis coalition convened at
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a moment of major gains. secretary of state rex tillerson: >> hard-fought victories in iraq and syria have swung the momentum in our coalition's favor. solidify our gains defeating isis is the united states number one goal in the region. >> yang: tillerson called for other nations to step up their own efforts, and he said the focus of the isis fight will soon shift to "stabilization." that would involve creating conditions so refugees can return home. iraqi prime minister haider al- abadi appealed for new attempts to bring peace. >> ( translated ): i call on containing the regional differences and regional conflicts because these are the main reasons these terrorist groups rise. >> yang: in iraq, government forces pressed the now-five- month battle to re-take mosul from islamic state fighters. >> ( translated ): the security forces are continuing to help move civilians. isis is done. i swear they are running. they have nothing left in iraq, i swear.
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>> yang: some of the fiercest fighting is unfolding around the al-nuri mosque. that's where isis leader abu bakr al baghdadi declared a caliphate in july 2014. the militants are also steadily losing ground in syria. today, u.s. aircraft dropped syrian kurdish fighters and allied forces near the town of tabqa, about 30 miles from raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of isis. if successful, the operation would essentially cut off militants' western approach to the city. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: north korea test- fired another missile today. but this time, the u.s. military says it blew up just after launch. hours later, an american b-1-b bomber joined south korean fighter jets in a show of deterrence. less than a month ago, the north had test-fired four ballistic missiles that landed in japanese waters. an urgent new appeal today about famine in four war-torn countries. the international committee of
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the red cross says it needs $300 million in emergency aid in the next three to four months. otherwise, it says mass starvation looms across yemen, somalia, south sudan, and northeastern nigeria. >> this is not business as usual. 20 million people facing starvation is not something that we are dealing with everyday and therefore, we really need to act now. and if we act now, especially in yemen and in somalia, famine can be averted. >> woodruff: the united nations has also warned of the famine danger. back in this country, the governor of arkansas signed a law allowing concealed handguns at state colleges, other government sites and some bars. gun owners would have to have up to eight hours of active-shooter training. supporters said it will let law- abiding people defend themselves.
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opponents said it will make everyday life more dangerous. police in los angeles say fear of deportation is discouraging latinos from reporting crimes. chief charlie beck says there's been a 25% drop in latinos reporting sexual assaults, since january. reports of domestic violence are down 10%. beck says people are afraid of contacting police or appearing in court. and, wall street had a quiet day. the dow jones industrial average lost six points to close at 20,661. the nasdaq rose 27 points, and the s&p 500 added four. still to come on the newshour: the russia file: allegations that a former trump campaign manager worked on behalf of russia. one on one with susan rice in her first interview since leaving public office. the gorsuch hearings, more questions for the supreme court nominee, and much more.
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>> woodruff: from april through august of last year, paul manafort was the chairman of the trump campaign. he has been under intense scrutiny for his business and political ties to both russia and ukraine. today, the associated press uncovered new information about manafort and his dealings with russians. hari sreenivasan has the story. >> sreenivasan: according to the a.p., manafort worked for a russian billionaire in 2005 with close ties to president vladimir putin, and drew up plans to influence politics in the u.s. that would favor russian government interests. for more on all of this we turn to jeff horwitz of the a.p., who helped break the story. jeff, lay out your findings here. >> sure. so, according to memos that we obtained that manafort wrote to
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derapaska, and his associates, who is very close to vladimir putin. manafort was working for him for a number of years, starting sort of in '04, and probably continuing to about 2009 on a whole bunch of projects in eastern europe with some ties into the u.s. as well. and so what manafort was basically promising to do in the memos we've obtained is to oofs attempt to undercut orange revolution, so sort of revelations that were, as a reference to the 2004 uprising in ukraine, that overthrew a pro-russian government, and promote the putin government's interests throughout the region. and part of that was focused on the u.s. as well washington the idea being that manafort would use contacts in washington as well. gl. >> sreenivasan: g so in the contact of what's happening now, in the trump administration, what's the connection with what paul manafort did 10 years ago and what's happening today? >> paul manafort's work is historical on this front. he had a fallout with deraposka
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over a business deal and as far as we know there is no business relationship between them at all. the thing that is important here, paul manafort, in these memos both demonstrated a willingness and sort of a knowledge of the region and set of contacts to do work on behalf of the russian government. in fact, that's one of the things that he was even promising in these memos was that he would happily do work directly on behalf of the russian state, if it was of interest. >> sreenivasan: what's the white house response been to this? >> so the white house's response to has been, one, to note it was 10 years ago, and that's emphatically true. and they have been very careful to say that donald trump, president donald trump knew nothing about paul manafort's past clients. now, they are also, of course, have sort of downplayed the role that mr. manafort played during the campaign. he was the campaign chairman. he was in charge of the ship for i think a number of months, certainly including the
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republican national convention. and, you know, some of his people sort of have stayed on in trump's orbit as well. but the white house's position is that this has nothing to do with mr. trump, that paul manafort is a private citizen, that he did nothing illegal, and that it's time to move on. >> sreenivasan: is paul manafort being investigated in any way now? >> so, yes. there are a number of different things going on, and some of this has been-- a lot of this has been publicly reported already. there are sort of a number of different reviews. and, of course, we also have members of congress who are at this point hinting that they want to subpoena him or haul him in front of committees in either the senate or the house. so that, i think, is going to be something where-- where we might be getting a bit more public exposure to this. >> sreenivasan: and to be clear, this is not the reason he no longer was chairman of donald trump's campaign. that is kind of a separate issue. >> no, no. he left the campaign in august amid a whole bunch of concerns as to whether they-- first of
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all, whether the ukrainian government might have paid him cash payments in a way that was potentially illicit. that was sort of a controversy back then. and then we also reported in-- i believe in 2013, he actually had been doing lobbying work-- or his firm had been overseeing lobbying work in the united states on behalf of those ukrainian interests without disclosing it. so those two things together sort of preceded his departure. >> sreenivasan: all right jeff horwitz of the associated press joining us from washington. thanks so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: in this morning's washington post, some tough words for president trump and his administration led the opinion pages: we spoke earlier this evening
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rice, who was until january 20 the writer: ambassador susan rice, who was until january 20 i began by asking about the allegations leveled today by house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes that the trump transition, including the president, may have been swept up in surveillance of foreigners at the end of the obama administration. >> i know nothing about this. i was surprised to see reports from chairman nunez on that count today. let's back up and recall where we have been. the president of the united states accused his predecessor, president obama, of wiretapping trump tower during the campaign. nothing of the sort occurred, and we've heard that confirmed by the director of the f.b.i.-- who also pointed out that no president, no white house can order the surveillance of another american citizen. that can only come from the justice department with the approval of a fisa court. so today, i really don't know to what chairman nunes was referring, but he said whatever he was referring to was a legal,
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lawful surveillance, and that it was potentially incidental collection on american citizens. and i think it's important for people to understand what "incidental" means. that means that the target was either a foreign entity or somebody under criminal investigation. and that the americans who were talking to those targets may have been picked up. >> woodruff: well, i wanted to ask but this, because as you also know, in the last few weeks, "the new york times" has reported that in the final days of the obama administration, individuals went out of their way to spread information throughout the government about what they knew about intelligence that the russians had interfered in the election last year, and that there may have been a connection with trump campaign officials. so that story has now been out there for several weeks.
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could there be a connection here? >> i'm not aware of any connection. i read "the new york times" story. i must say, judy, as one of the most senior white house officials and the most senior responsible for national security i found that report a bit perplexing. i was not aware of orders to disseminate that kind of information. i have no idea if that was the case. the fact is the president did request back in december the intelligence community compile all of the information tt it had on what had transpired during the campaign with respect to the russians involving themselveses in the presidential campaign. and that report was provided to the american people in an unclassified form and to congress in classified form in early january. >> woodruff: was there a concern, though, inside the obama administration, inside the white house, that the new trump administration might not follow up on that intelligence that had been gathered? >> i don't think that was the concern because to the extent that there was any need to
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follow up, it wouldn't be done necessarily by the white house, but by the intelligence community, and by the justice je department, if appropriate opinion i think our interest was, and the president's direction was, let us make sure that we have compiled and put together in one place all the information that we have so that it is there for the new administration, it's there for the american people, and there for congress to utilize as they see fit. >> woodruff: well, let's-- that brings us to the opinion piece that you wrote-- that appeared today in the "washington post," ambassador rice nwhich you-- what you describe as a pattern of false statements from this president. could jms the national security of this country. that's a serious charge. what did you mean by that? >> well, let me explain, judy. i think the american people know that over last weeks of the administration-- it's now been almost-- almost exactly two months-- we've heard a number of striking and actually patently misleading statements from not
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only the president but also from his principal spokespersons. and those statements are heard and digested by the rest of the world, whether they are our friends or our adversarys. the "wall street journal" made a very similar point today on its editorial page. and the point is this: the united states of america is the leading power in the world. our friends and our adversaries respect us in large measure because they know that we are steady. we are fact based. we are serious. and when we have the white house of the united states putting out information that everybody can see to be inaccurate, if not deliberately false, it shakes the credibility and the confidence of our allies, and it lends doubt to our adversaries who may miscalculate. and it undermines the confidence of the american people in what comes out of the white house, which is very detrimental in the event we have a national crisis and we need to rally around the flag. >> woodruff: but just to play
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devil's advocate for a moment, how do you-- how does anyone else know, though, that this is just not rough beginning, rocky beginning of a new administration, and that other countries can see through mistakes, whatever you want to call them-- statements -- and they're look at the overall picture and u.s. national security is not really in jeopardy? >> well, judy, i think if it were one or two such statements and then the-- they were corrected when the facts were plain, that would be one thing. but we've had statements ranging from the allegation that three million to five million illegal immigrants voted in our election, which has been debunked on a bipartisan basis by members of congress to this allegation that we've already discussed, which was quite shocking, that the president's predecessor, president obama, had illegally wire tapped his office building during the campaign. and we've heard from bipartisan
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leaderes of congress, as well as from the director of the f.b.i. that there's no information to support that allegation. and yet, there's been no correction, no apology. and i think the world is not impervious to what happens here in the united states. on the contrary they watch it very, very carefully. and they wonder and worry what does this mean? can we trust the word of the white house? >> woodruff: well, in the meantime, different subject, today the trump administration convened a meet hearing in washington of the leaders from 68 countries to talk about the fight against isis, the path forward. among other things, officials of this administration are saying the reason isis is still the threat that it is to the world is in part because of the failed policies of the obama administration. >> well, i think the facts don't bear that out. the strategy that the trump administration is pursuing at the behest of the very same military leaders who advised the obama administration, is
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virtually unchanged. the fundamentals of the strategy, which are to work with parers in-- in the case of iraq, the iraqi government, in the case of syria, with the syrian democratic forces, a mixture of kurds and arabs -- to take back territory remains the thrust of our strategies, as it should be. >> woodruff: the last thing i want to ask you about is a decision that was announced or that appeared fooers have been made by this administration to shift more authority of military operations to the pentagon. in the context of criticism that under president obama there was too much micromanaging out of the white house about everything that happened, that the military did. >> well, i think that criticism is a well-trodden line. i've heard it many times. and i think the fact is this-- president obama took very, very seriously his role as commander in chief. now, you know, which things go wrong, as, unfortunately, tragically, they did in yemen recently during the first military raid of this
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administration or when we're trying to figure out what just happened in syria with respect to a bombing that caused a number of civilian casualties. some say it was a mosque. we say it wasn't. it's very important that the commander in chief own responsibility for decisions such as that and is willing to say to the men and women in uniform, "that was my choice," and not blame it on others, whether the commanders or people below. >> brangham: former national security adviser to president obama, susan rice. thank you very much. >> good to be with you, judy. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: the great barrier reef under threat. but first, a look at the third day of supreme court confirmation hearings and what more we learned about neil gorsuch. joining me at the table: pbs newshour hour supreme court
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analyst, marcia coyle of "the national law journal." amy howe, editor of pam karlan, a professor of law at stanford university, she worked in the justice department during the obama administration, and ilya shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the cato institute, a libertarian think tank. welcome all of you back to the newshour. i want us to start by listening to something that senator dianne feinstein had to say. she pressed judge gorsuch on his views about how to interpret the constitution, and she expressed some concern over what he said before on the importance of supreme court precedent. let's listen. >> we talked about precedent. and what's happened is every republican-appoint judged has gone back and is a no vote. so how does-- how does one look at you for the life of me, i really don't know when you're there what you're going to do with it.
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>> senator, all i can do is-- i can't promise you how i'd rule in a particular case. that would be deeply wrong to sit here at a confirmation table, and i think we agree on that. of, that it would be a violation of the independent judiciary for a nominee to a court to make a promise on any case in order to win confirmation. >> are you an originalist? >> i'm happy to be called that. i do worry about the use of labels in our civic discussion to sometimes ignore underlying ideas, as if originalism belonged to a party. it doesn't. as it belonged to an ideological wing. didt doesn't. >> well, here's what i say about originalism-- whether you like it or not, is it bound by the law? >> of course, it is. it's the whole point of how you interpret the law. >> now, to those who believe the constitution is a living, breathing document that can
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speak to you and nobody else, that bothers me. the bottom le is there are different ways of looking at the role of being a judge. do you believe that your way of looking at being a judge has stood the test of time? >> i do. >> woodruff: so, marcia coyle what, did we learn about judge gorsuch from this? >> okay i think two things were going on here in the exchange, particularly with senator feinstein. first of all, she was trying to get at what kind of originalist is judge gorsuch. they're not all the same. in fact, justice scalia, who was a self-proclaimed originalist, often said that justice clarence thomas was the only true originalist on the supreme court. so she was trying to get a sense of him. and, also, her concern about precedent. i mean, it is true, every supreme court nominee has testified to respect for precedent. but precedents, old decisions,
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do get over-ruled. the question was what factors do you use? you can justify upsetting the law by over-ruling an old decision? and judge gorsuch did lay out the factors multiple times, even though he won't commit to not overruling a specific case. >> woodruff: pam karlan, what did you take away from this? >> well, here's what was interesting. he did commit to not over-ruling "brown versus board of education." he said that case was correctly decided. he did commit to not overturning "gris would" but he refused to commit to the same idea with regard to case like "roe" or cases like "lawrence." and there's no honest originalist who really can say people who ratified the 14th amendment in 18 scaept thought that it protected gay people given that the same people who ratified that amendment all prohibited sodomy in their states. so i think he gave us a very clear sense of what kind of an
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originalist he was today in the way he answered questions about different lines of precedent. >> woodruff: ilya shapiro. >> well, pam, i'm an honest originalist-- at least i try to be-- and i would say that the 14th amendment does protect gay rights in various ways. i filed breefsz supporting the challengers. the cato ?iews ?oout has long been about that. you do originalism at the right time. you're not looking into the brains or minds of the people who enacted it and ratifying it. you look at the words. what did the words mean at the time? "equal" means equal. to apply the interstate commerce clause airplanes or the internet. because that's interstate commerce. >> sreenivasan: amy howe, i'm going to come to you to ask you to adjudicate this? >> well, i think this is really sort of a bigger picture issue, which is that the senators, the democratic ?raertz trying to get more information about gorsuch, and, you know, donald trump said he wanted to appoint justices in
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the mold of scalia and clarence thomas, and the democratic ?raertz trying to figure out, you know, what makes him think that? you know, okay-- and there's originalism, but what kind of originalist are you? >> woodruff: there's something else i want you to listen to. during his campaign, we know then-candidate donald trump promised to appoint justices with similar philosophies to the late justice antonin scalia. now, democratic senator patrick leahy questioned gorsuch on what his views are. >> by nominating you, donald trump was talking about change potentially 40 years of law. suggesting you'd come in here as a trojan horse. what vision do you share with president trump? >> senator, i mean no disrespect to any other person in saying they don't speak for me. and i don't speak for them.
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you know, i have great admiration for justice scalia, as we've talked about. i have admiration for every member of this commit and for the president of the united states, for the vice president of the united states. but respectfully, none of you speaks for me. i speak for me. i am a judge. i am independent. i make up my own mind. >> judge, in eight out of 10 cases that came before you, you ruled against students with disabilities. >> i'm sure there were unanimous panels and sosuggest that i have some animous against children, senator, would be mistaken. >> judge, please. i'm not suggesting that. what i'm basically saying to you is i can only look at your court opinions, the words you write because, like many nom neerkz you are careful in your testimony before us. you told us time and again, "no place for my heart here.
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this is all about the facts. this is all about the law." i don't buy that. i don't think that the decisions of courts are so robotic, so programmatic that all you need to do is to look at the facts and look at the law and there's an obvious conclusion. if that were the case, there would never be a dissent. >> woodruff: amy howe, what do we take away from this? this was about whether judge gorsuch sees people as human beings or is he blindly following the law tseemed? >> well, what i think-- i think maybe what durbin was trying to say-- and maybe it was just inartfully phrased-- and he had something there-- the idea judge gorsuch keeps saying, "i'm a judge. i apply the laws to the facts." it's not always that easy. cases get to the supreme court because they're hard and as senator durbin said, if it were that easy a computer could do tthere would be no dissents. what he was i think trying to get at, you know, was when there's a gray area, what else are you going to bring to the table? >> woodruff: what do you take away from all this, ilya
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shapiro? >> i look at another couple of changes during the day's questioning with al franken about arbitration, and with ben sass, about the same top and i can it goes towards how some judges are more willing to bend the law to achieve a just result because otherwise they don't like the result they're getting. franken was talking about how arbitration provisions might go against the little guy, and ben sass said i might agree with you in the cases you're presenting so we, senators, congress, should change those laws. that's where the debate is. sometimes reaching a result that seems unjustice is often opportunity for congress to change it. >> the question is what the interpretation of the arbitration act is. the current supreme court, with a republican majority, has narrowed people's ability to get into court by reading a law that's been around since 1920s, more narrowly than the court used to. so i think it's important to understand that laws can be read in a lot of different ways. they're not always absolutely
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clear. and judges have to bring judgment to those laws, and conservativeconservatives and le very different views on how to read those laws. it isn't mechanical. amy howe is exactly right. and to the extent that judges suggest this is mechanical with the kind of balls and strikes metaphors or "i'm just a judge applying the law," they're hiding what is often gog, which is the exercise of judgment about what does a word like--" a phrase like "free and appropriate education" mean? >> woodruff: marcia coyle. >> i tend to agree more with pam because i think that senator durbin was trying, if you had if listened to the whole exchange, he was trying to find exactly that-- is this a judge who reads laws narrowly? in this particular case involving individuals with disabilities and education, the children, he focused on a word that judge gorsuch had in an
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opinion that appeared to narrow the standards for these children to get the help they needed in the-- in public schools or outside of public schools. so i think again this was an effort, even if not really direct and clear, to try to understand how judge gorsuch approaches the law. >> woodruff: now, in this final excerpt from today's hearing that i want to share, this was an exchange with senator sheldon whitehouse air, democrat, about a court decision on campaign finance. now, judge gorsuch expressed concern about the idea of judges being political and the role of politics in the federal court. let's listen. >> i'm distressed to hear you think that judges or the supreme court is an organ of a party. that to me is just eye know you feel that way. and that distresses me. >> it distresses me, too, quite a lot. most people aren't watching these hearings. and most people are going to see some headline summary of what
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happened. if they see something that looks like republicans voted one way and democrats voted another way and they have echoing in their ears the sounds of people saying that you are some sort of a shill for big business, and that the american people should be scared of you, we will have in this body done something to further erode the public trust. and so i sincerely hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, as they approach voting will recognize that the audience after they vote isn't just people in their next primary who want to see a greater politicization of every question in american life. >> woodruff: i'm going to come to you, ilya shapiro. did we come away, at least from what we heard so far, thinking these courts are more political than ever because of the kinds of questions and answers we're hearing? >> well, i'm not sure. i think we come away thinking the senators are more political even than he possibly could have imagined. it was a very fraught hearing in that way. if you look at the actual facts,
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at the spreerkt democratically appointed justices vote together more often, certainly in the controversial cases, than the republican-appointed ones. we also alzheimer's talk about will kennedy go one way or another, will robert do another obamacare vote of a certain kind? there's much lesdebate about will sotomayor defect or what crazy thing will breyer come up with these days? i think there's a lot of intellectual fervent on the right. so that's what gives people-- turns them on or turns them off the court. >> woodruff: marcia coyle are, we-- are we picking up more from listening to these exchanges about whether we should be reading politics into so much of what the supreme court does? >> well, i think everybody has to not be naive about what the supreme court does. the supreme court is a political institution. the justices are there through a political process. but what you have to step back and think about is are the justices, when they make decisions,athing in a partisan way.
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and that's where, at least i still believe, that the institution is not partisan. i remember during today's hearing, senator graham being very frustrated and saying, "gee, when justice scalia went through here, it was 97-0. when justice ginsberg, a democratic appointee went through, it was 93 or 96-0. what has happened?" well, i think both-- i think the executive branch and the legislative branch share the blame, republicans and democrats share the blame. the way this particular vacancy has been handled has really update the political stakes. and there's a cost. there's a cost to judge gorsuch who has had to set-- prove his independence, and then there's a cost to the institution of the supreme court. >> woodruff: pam karlan, where do you come down on just how political this whole thing is? >> i don't think this is so much political as it is fundamental
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disagreements in america about what our constitution expheens how bhow to interpret it. and those map on sometimes to partisan divisions. but i think they're bigger than that. and it's a profound moment in our constitutional history. >> woodruff: amy howe, you get the last word on the politics of this whole thing. >> well, i tend to agree with marcia, that there's politics at the court, but not necessarily partisanship. but i do think, you know, senator john kennedy of louisiana kind of went off message today. he told gorsuch that many of "my constituents vote forward trump because of the supreme court." and that's why trump put out the list that gorsuch was on was to try and get-- >> woodruff: during the campaign. >> to get the votes of social conservatives to reassure them that he was going to appoint someone that would make them happy. >> woodruff: and you're saying that wasn't the message they intended to get out there. >> that wasn't the message judge gorsuch was advancing today. >> woodruff: today of the second day. it looks like they may go into tomorrow. we're waiting to see how much
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long tergoes tonight. we will be back with you tomorrow and we thank you all very much. marcia coyle, amy howe, pam karlan, ilya shapiro, thank you. >> woodruff: the great barrier reef along the coast of australia is considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. it actually consists of more than 2,900 smaller reefs and 900 islands and countless species of fish. but its health and future are very much in doubt. miles o'brien has the story for our weekly segment on the "leading edge" of science and technology. >> reporter: half the size of texas, spanning 1,400 miles, australia's great barrier reef is the largest living structure on the planet. it is rich in beauty and diversity, but it is dying, as the ocean waters steadily warm. >> it's a very confronting
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situation and i hope the people of the world take this as a call to action to do more about climate change. >> reporter: coral reef ecologist david wachenfeld is director for reef recovery at the great barrier reef marine park authority. it's the second consecutive summer of extensive coral destruction, or bleaching, on the reef. >> we are using aerial surveys and underwater surveys to try and cover that whole enormous area of the great barrier reef to get a handle on the eent and severity of the event. but certainly this year is shaping up to be another very bad year as was last year. >> reporter: last year, two thirds of the corals in the northern part of the great barrier reef died, the worst die off in history. as for this year, it is too early to tell. but the outlook is grim as this is one big piece of an unprecedented global coral crisis. >> since june of '14, we've had continuous bleaching somewhere
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in the world. globally, over 70% of the coral reefs around the globe have been exposed to the high temperature that caused bleaching. >> reporter: coral reef ecologist mark eakin is the coordinator for the national oceanic and atmospheric administration's coral reef watch. he relies on data from scientific satellites operated by noaa, the europeans, and the japanese that measure ocean water temperature. he, along with david wachenfeld, is co-author of a new study published in the journal nature documenting the link between warm waters and dying coral in the great barrier reef. >> what we did here at reef watch was to provide the satellite data that gives the information on the areas where the high temperatures occurred. so, there are charts in there showing where the bleaching was worst and where the temperatures were highest for the longest time and the correlation between that heat stress and where the bleaching occurred was very high.
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>> reporter: coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea, brimming with mind-boggling diversity that is still not fully explored. >> despite the fact that coral reefs occupy a very small footprint of the overall earth's surface, less than 0.1%, an area about the size of the country of france, they're home to more species of marine organisms than any other marine ecosystem on the planet. >> reporter: jen smith is associate professor in marine biology at the scripps institution of oceanography at the university of california san diego. we met at scripps' birch aquarium, home to some spectacular displays of reef ecosystems, to nurture curious minds. and behind the scenes, an extensive nursery to nurture the coral itself. most corals are nourished through a symbiotic relationship with algae, that convert sunlight into energy, which the corals tap into. >> so it's like having a garden
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growing in your stomach where 90% of your daily nutrition comes directly from that garden in your stomach. >> reporter: the pigments in the algae are the source of the vivid rainbow of colors in a healthy coral reef. but the algae are very temperature sensitive. a few degrees warmer than normal and their photosynthesis is enhanced. that may sound good, but the unfortunate byproduct is a toxin. so the coral is forced to spit out its food source, revealing its white color, thus the term bleaching. jen smith showed me birch's display of an unhealthy bleached coral reef. >> as long as you still see white skeleton, that's usually an indication that the coral is still alive because as soon as the tissue starts dying, your seaweed will start settling on that skeleton and start growing over it. so within a matter of a few weeks or even a month during a bleaching event, you'll have an idea of whether that coral is
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dead and getting overgrown by seaweed or whether it's on its way to recovery. >> reporter: the sustained global bleaching event is not giving corals a chance to recover. many coral reefs are further stressed by other types of human activity: runoff from sewage, agriculture, and overfishing. but scientists say the current bleaching is happening whether those local factors are present or not. it is clear warming water is the clprit, and reducing our use of fossil fuels is the only solution. scientists say the world must adhere to obligations to do just that made by 195 nations in paris in 2015. >> this is really the only thing that's going to deal with this global coral bleaching problem. even if we do though, we're going to lose a lot of coral reefs. >> reporter: but the trump administration is filled with climate change skeptics pushing to roll back obama-era regulations aimed at reducing
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greenhouse gases. so what if we do nothing to slow climate change? >> coral reefs as we know them will not exist in the next 10, 20, 30 years. we could single-handedly be responsible for the extinction of an entire ecosystem. >> reporter: coral reefs are more than spectacular, vivid examples of nature's beauty. the fish they harbor are also a food source for a half billion people, and natural barriers against storms and floods. but before too long, they may only exist behind glass. miles o'brien, the pbs newshour, la jolla, california. >> woodruff: clearly they are a global treasure. let's hope more attention is paid to how to save them. and that's the newshour for tonight. on thursday, the planned vote on the republican replacement for obamacare. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you
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soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> it's hard not to feel pride as a citizen of this country when we're in a place like this. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the well-being of humanity around the world by building resilience and inclusive economies. more at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for
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